ACTION ALERT: Cory Report
From IAUC Irish American Unity Conference
01 April 2004
The publication by the British government today of edited versions of the Cory Reports into British State collusion in four murder cases in Northern Ireland provides two further examples of British bad faith in its dealings with Ireland.
First, it again confirms evidence of a policy of British state-sanctioned murder in Ireland:
Judge Cory's conclusion is that some of the acts relating to the murders in themselves, as well as the cumulative effect of the documents and the statements,Â "clearly indicate to me that there is strong evidence that collusive acts were committed by the army (FRU), the RUC Special Branch and
the security services". -- Cory Report
Second, the British government is continuing to cover up the truth about the death of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane by again delaying a public inquiry into his murder:
The Finucane family statement from today says, "The British Government continue to cover up the truth about the death of my husband with their delaying tactics," Mrs Geraldine Finucane said.
"We did not ask for the Stevens investigation. We did not ask for Justice Cory to prepare a report and we certainly have never asked for prosecutions. We have always said that these were delaying tactics and the delay continues."
"But the campaign for a public inquiry will also continue. Justice Cory's report confirms that there was a State policy of targeting and assassination. The public should read the details in his report. It is unbelievable but the official documents that he examined show that it is all true." --Geraldine Finucane
Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Cowen, welcomed the three inquiries being set up immediately but said he was "very disappointed with the decision of the British government to delay action on the Judge's recommendation that a public inquiry be established quickly into the
circumstances of the murder of Pat Finucane."
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Below are two stories from the IAIS, the first covering the material the British government chose to publish. The second is the reaction to today's publication of an edited version to the reports.
BRITAIN UNDER FIRE FOR TERRORIST COLLUSION
04/01/04 06:44 EST
Severe criticism of British intelligence agencies and the British Government in the Cory Reports on collusion led to moves towards public inquiries in three cases today - with a judicial probe into the murder of Pat Finucane controversially put on hold.
British Army intelligence, RUC Special Branch, MI5, the Prison Service and the Northern Ireland Office all came under censure in the four reports published in the House of Commons today.
The British government is to press ahead with inquiries into three of the controversial killings, the Northern Ireland Secretary Mr Paul Murphy said today.
Public inquiries are to be set up immediately into the murders of the unionist paramilitary Loyalist Volunteer Force boss Billy Wright, Catholic father of two Robert Hamill and human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson.
An inquiry into the fourth and most controversial case of all, the murder of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane, will get under way once criminal prosecutions finish later this year, contrary to Judge Cory's report which suggested an immediate independent inquiry.
The report, published by the British government today, has been edited, "for privacy and protection".
Mr Finucane was shot dead in front of his family in his north Belfast home in February 1989. A West Belfast loyalist and British security force agent, Ken Barrett, is due to stand trial in September.
In his report, Judge Cory said a shadowy British Army Intelligence Unit operating in the North, the Force Recognisence Unit (FRU), were aware that an agent, Brian Nelson, whom they ran within the unionist paramilitary UDA
had "considerable influence" in directing targeting operations.
Cory said FRU were also aware that Nelson often played a direct and active role in reconnaissance missions.
He said that the continued provision of information to Nelson in these circumstances could be seen "as evidence of collusive behaviour that had the potential to facilitate the deadly operations planned by the UDA." (page 102)
"The documents I have examined disclose that Army handlers and their superiors turned a blind eye to the criminal acts of Nelson. In doing this they established a pattern of behaviour that could be characterised as collusive." (page 103)
Nelson was chief Intelligence officer for the UDA while also acting as an agent of the British Army's FRU.
Judge Cory's report that RUC Special Branch "rarely took any steps to document threats or prevent attacks by the UDA, whereas pro-active steps were routinely taken in connection with PIRA and other Republican threats".
He said the failure to issue warnings to person targeted by the UDA often led to "tragic consequences".
"This is indicative of attitudes with RUC Special Branch," he said. (page 105)
"If criminal prosecutions are to proceed the practical effect might be to delay the public inquiry for at least two years. The Finucane family will be devastated. A large part of the Northern Ireland community will be frustrated. Myths and misconceptions will proliferate and hopes of peace and
understanding will be eroded. This may be one of the rare situations where a public inquiry will of greater benefit to a community than prosecutions," Cory said.
The announcement by the British government of a delay of a public inquiry into Finucane's death could run into years due to the ongoing Stevens police investigations which could result in further prosecutions.
Sir John Stevens turned down a plea from Geraldine Finucane in February to set aside his investigations to allow an inquiry to take place quickly.
There have been allegations of British security force collusion in all four of the cases studied by Judge Cory.
Rosemary Nelson died in March 1999 when a loyalist bomb detonated under her car outside her home in Lurgan, Co Armagh.
Judge Cory said he was satisfied that there was sufficient evidence of collusion by British Governmental Agencies in her murder to warrant holding a public inquiry. (page 71)
"RUC officers are alleged to have made highly demeaning and threatening remarks about Rosemary Nelson while questioning her clients. Among other things, they are said to have questioned her morality, made insulting sexual innuendos, described her facial scarring in cruel and debasing terms, belittled her ability as a lawyer and, perhaps most disturbingly, to have threatened her life. It is for a public inquiry to determine whether or not these remarks were made. If it is found that they were, this could constitute strong evidence of collusion," said Cory. (page 66)
"The NIO's (Northern Ireland Office) mishandling of documents that were directly pertinent and vitally important to the safety of Rosemary Nelson may also indicate a level of neglect or disregard that could be found to be collusive." (page 69)
"The NIO's failure to take any action to protect Rosemary Nelson could be found to be troubling when it is considered against the background of the earlier murder of Patrick Finucane. By disregarding a significant body of evidence of threats against Rosemary Nelson, it could be found that the NIO engaged in conduct that was collusive in nature," Cory said. (page 70)
Mr Hamill died in hospital 12 days after he was kicked and beaten by a loyalist mob in Portadown town center in April 1997. An RUC police patrol in the vicinity refused to intervene as the mob attacked the Catholic man, a random sectarian target.
Cory also addressed allegations that RUC officers assisted the perpetrators in avoiding prosecution in the case.
"Police officers must not act collusively by ignoring or turning a blind eye to the wrongful acts of their officers or of their servants or agents. Nor can the police act collusively by supplying information to assist those committing wrongful acts or by encouraging them to commit wrongful acts,"
"First and foremost the actions of Reserve Constable B, if established, are capable of being found to constitute the most flagrant type of collusion. His actions did not constitute the simple turning of a blind eye. Rather they could be found to be carefully planned and premeditated actions taken
to frustrate a murder investigation and to protect or to exonerate an individual who might have been guilty of murder."
"Steps should have been taken to obtain the clothing of Robert Hamill and those identified as the scene as taking part in the assault, the failure to take steps may indicate a bias in the police force that could amount to
Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Wright was gunned down in a prison van at the high security Maze prison by the Irish National Liberation Army in December 1999.
In his report, Cory asked whether the Northern Ireland Prison Service "turn a blind eye to the very dangerous situation they knew or ought to have known would arise from billeting the INLA and LVF prisoners in the same H block in the Maze?"
"Similarly, did another Governmental agency fail to advise or supply to the Prison Service information they had received and considered reasonably reliable which indicated that a dangerous situation had arisen or was arising in the prison?" (Page 78)
Cory said that one or two of the incidents that occurred on the day of the murder "may, in themselves, have little significance".
"On the other hand when they are all considered together the resulting effect may be sufficient to take them out of the realm of coincidence and make them components of a plan to murder Billy Wright that was collusive in nature." (page 89)
"There is, in my view, sufficient evidence of acts or omissions that could, after hearing the testimony of witnesses, coupled with a review of the relevant documents result in a finding that there had been acts of collusion by Prison Services, their directors, officers or employees." (page 89)
Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary, Paul Murphy, said Judge Cory's report raised serious questions.
Speaking at Westminister, he told MP's he was under no illusions that confronting the past was "a difficult and painful process".
"The government and its agencies are ready to play their part. We need to find a way of remembering the past while at the same time not allowing it to hinder progress in the future."
"Northern Ireland needs greater reconciliation between the communities. That is where all our attention needs to be dictated. We should ensure that we do not concentrate on divisive issues from the past at the expense of securing
this," Murphy said.
The full text of the edited reports published by Britain's Northern Ireland Office can be accessed at:
FINUCANES OUTRAGED AT FURTHER INQUIRY DELAY
04/01/04 09:32 EST
The British government is continuing to cover up the truth about the death of Belfast lawyer Pat Finucane, his family said today.
In a statement the family said today's statement from Britain's Northern Secretary Mr Paul Murphy was "very disappointing but expected".
Mr Murphy the British government would be pressing ahead with inquiries into three controversial killings, following the publication of the Cory reports.
Public inquiries are to be set up immediately into the murders of loyalist terror boss Billy Wright, Catholic father of two Robert Hamill and human rights lawyer Rosemary Nelson.
However, an inquiry into the fourth and most controversial case of all, the murder of Mr Finucane, will only get under way once criminal prosecutions finish later this year.
"The British Government continue to cover up the truth about the death of my husband with their delaying tactics," Mrs Geraldine Finucane said.
"We did not ask for the Stevens investigation. We did not ask for Justice Cory to prepare a report and we certainly have never asked for prosecutions. We have always said that these were delaying tactics and the delay
"But the campaign for a public inquiry will also continue. Justice Cory's report confirms that there was a State policy of targeting and assassination. The public should read the details in his report. It is unbelievable but the official documents that he examined show that it is all true."
Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Cowen, welcomed the three inquiries being set up immediately but said he was "very disappointed with the decision of the British government to delay action on the Judge's recommendation that a public inquiry be established quickly into the circumstances of the murder of Pat Finucane."
In his report on Mr Finucane, Judge Cory warned against delaying an inquiry and said it might be one of the "rare situations" where a public inquiry "will be of greater benefit to a community than prosecutions".
He said evidence he had considered from a mass of official documents "clearly indicate to me that there is strong evidence that collusive acts were committed by the army (Force Research Unit), the RUC Special Branch and the Security Service."
"Without proper scrutiny, doubts based solely on myth and suspicion will linger long, fester and spread their malignant infection throughout the Northern Ireland community."
It was for the Attorney General to decide on prosecution, but it was extremely difficult to hold a public inquiry at the same time as a prosecution, said the judge.
Delaying the inquiry would be a bitter disappointment to the Finucane family and a large segment of the community, he added.
"The Finucane family will be devastated. A large part of the Northern Ireland community will be frustrated."
Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist Party leader Mr David Trimble has been attacked for implying that Mr. Finucane had paramilitary links.
Speaking in the House of Commons in London, Mr Trimble, said he was opposed to inquiries but added: "If as a result of this, the truth about Finucane and Nelson comes into the public domain incontrovertibly, there will be some side effect."
"I mention those two in particular because in the case of Wright a lot of his background and his terrorist activities are in the public domain and leave out Hamill because there's no reason whatsoever to link him with others who have a clear terrorist connection."
Mrs Geraldine Finucane said the statement was "very hurtful and untrue" and he should be ashamed of it.
"His accusations were designed to signal to a small section of the public that my husband's murder was justified," she said.
Mrs Finucane said that a public inquiry would give the Ulster Unionist leader the opportunity to repeat those statements and she looked forward to the day when he was forced to publicly retract them. Justice Cory stated that it was my husband's role as a solicitor which led to his murder. Trimble's statement in parliament today was not only false but it is also something that was contradicted by Justice Cory himself and by the RUC files which he examined."
The RUC has itself accepted that Mr. Finucane was never involved in the IRA.
Diane Hamill, sister of Robert Hamill, said her family was pleased the British government would act on Judge Cory's recommendation.
"For the last seven years this is all we have tried to get from the night that my brother was attacked and allowed to be murdered," she said.
The family of Rosemary Nelson said in a statement that she might be alive today if she had been treated with the "respect and dignity her professional position deserved".
They said: "We are both horrified and saddened, if not entirely surprised, by the graphic description of the abuse and vilification of Rosemary by members of the RUC contained within this report."
The family of the late Billy Wright has welcomed Judge Cory's
In a statement they said: "Judge Cory has raised a number of serious questions about the conduct and actions of the Prison Authorities and Intelligence Agencies."
Earlier today, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "It is important that we do try in Northern Ireland to move beyond the past. I don't know whether necessarily a truth and reconciliation commission is the right way to do it, but there needs to be some way of trying to both allow people to express their grief, their pain and indeed their anger in respect of what has happened in Northern Ireland without the past continually dominating the present and the future."
Commenting on the publication of the Cory Reports, Sinn Féin spokesperson on Policing and Justice Gerry Kelly said it sets out much of what has been known publicly but not acted upon.
"Judge Cory's conclusion is that some of the acts in themselves, as well as the cumulative effect of the documents and the statements, 'clearly indicate to me that there is strong evidence that collusive acts were committed by the army (FRU), the RUC Special Branch and the security services'."
"Sinn Féin supports the family demands for full independent, international inquiries. The Cory cases are but the tip of the iceberg. At least 80 people listed on the files of just one agent, Brian Nelson, the unionist paramilitary and British Intelligence agent, were attacked. 29 were shot dead. The British securocrats ran many more Brian Nelson's. They still do," Kelly said.
"MI5 recruited Nelson. MI5 reports directly to the British Prime Minister in Downing Street. That is where political clearance was given for the policy of collusion. That is where the responsibility lies. That is why a British Secretary of State for Defence sought to persuade the British Attorney General not to prosecute Nelson. That is why senior British officials were
involved in the attempted cover up."
"The Cory Report is a damning indictment of British rule in Ireland. It reports on the British government killing of citizens with impunity. This is a scenario usually associated with repressive dictatorships. In any democracy in Europe the government would have fallen."
"The structures which implemented this policy still exist. The agents are still being run. The handlers are still in place. We need to know where these people are now for many former members of Special Branch have since been placed into senior positions throughout the PSNI. They continue to have
a malign influence over policing in the north," continued Kelly.
"Sinn Féin is calling on the Irish government and on political and civic opinion throughout the island to pursue these matters with the utmost vigour to ensure that the wishes of the victims families are delivered and so that Irish citizens are never again subjected to such a campaign."
"The British government must take up it responsibilities. They must put an end to the cover up and to the ethos and structures in which this killing campaign flourished," Kelly said.